conceptual photography, contemporary art, murals

Cindy Sherman at Sprüth Magers

January 15, 2011

If you were to purchase work from Cindy Sherman‘s new show, someone would apparently come to your home and fit the piece to your room. Her photographic prints fill the whole wall.

They are, in other words, wallpaper and their decorative potential is exaggerated by toile patterning in the background. This puts one in mind of elegant French upholstery or ceramics and I’m told the stuff is like catnip to women of a certain age and social bracket.

So far, so tasteful, but then come giant colour photographs of the artist dressed in a range of outré costumes. We have a circus performer, a seeming inhabitant of Middle Earth, a woman in a nude-woman body suit, and five more who are no less strange for being relatively mundane.

You could hardly say these figures blend in, although there is a ninth incarnation of Sherman who does just that. This one floats gaily through the landscape, rendered in toile-esque black and white.

She looks as if she would be very much at home in someone’s nice home. And by contrast the others look like they come from another planet. It would be like having a permanent stranger in the room.

So despite their resemblance to interior design, these murals do seem emphatic that Sherman’s art is no mere decoration. And its relationship with fashion, while indisputable, is filled with unease.

There’s a great interview with Cindy Sherman in today’s Guardian and a brief but illuminating Q&A with gallery director Andreas Gegner at Dazed Digital.

Show runs until 19 February. See gallery website for more details.

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